Let’s hear some good news.

Despite the fact my degree is in Journalism, I have never been a fan of the news. Yes, this might seem contradictory, but the news is only one form of Journalism. A form that never appealed to me, as I seldomly received value from hearing what was being conveyed. Sure, this might surprise my friends in the news business, but I look at what they do purely as a service.

So, how to I find out what’s happening? There are plenty of sources to derive this information, and we are living during a time to be fortunate to have numerous options. I have family members who need to depend on news sources for their job, but like me, they too must source their information from a variety of places. Mainly to help them to sort out which information could be closest to being truthful, and sans only opinions on a topic.

Sorting out what news information is biased, and which is purely propaganda may seem like an easy assignment. It’s not, and this is because you need to have a wider lens of understanding and looking at the information you are consuming. This takes effort and time, and not everyone is willing to consider doing this. That’s fine, but you will need to appreciate you will be subjected to incredible biases, without even potentially realizing the influence it is having on you. Especially the bad news.

One of my favorite ways to source good news is to talk to people. Particularly when I am traveling. There is something special about hearing others share good news with you. I also adore how excited people get when they have an opportunity to tell you something they are proud of, or happy about knowing. To see people light up and become highly animated when they are telling you about positive news is incredibly heartwarming.

When I am talking to my corporate and sports client leaders, my favorite part of interacting with them is to hear about progress. Why? Because to me, progress is almost always positive. Even if it is minor progress. The fact that others notice progress is also refreshing, particularly when they can go into detail about what has occurred.  I also enjoy seeing how proud people become when they can share good news about those they lead or engage with.

Perhaps hearing negative news impacts me differently than others? I will acknowledge that I know it does, and I have come to terms with this. In fact, I have embraced the fact I know that negative news does not serve me well. However, I can’t imagine it does for most people, so I’m always curious about how people are able to process hearing negative news. Especially in large doses? Yes, it’s my opinion, but I find it hard to believe that this does anyone any favors.

Given the fact my preference is to focus almost exclusively on hearing good news, I’ll share with you some suggestions I have to help you to do so too.

  • This will seem highly obvious, but consider not watching the mainstream news.
  • I’m not endorsing any publications, but there are some publications and online news sources that are oriented towards providing you with as close to unbiased news as possible. I’ll let you decide who they are. Unfortunately, these news sources will contain negative news, but they might also have a balance of neutral or positive news too.
  • When was the last time you started a conversation and asked someone to tell you some good news? Give it a try!
  • Are you someone who loves to only talk about bad news? Perhaps you aren’t even aware you do this?
  • If you are unsure of whether you are perceived as a “negative news” person, ask someone who can truthfully tell you whether you are this way.
  • Consider coming up with a list of topics you want to learn more about. Now invest time in exploring learning more about them, with the focus on understanding what the positive impact of the topic happens to be. Then share the good information with others.
  • What part are you playing in your life or professionally to be contributing to adding positively to our world? Whatever this might be, how can you increase the amount of this to have an even greater positive impact?
  • Helping other people in any capacity is always a great path to pursue to have it conclude with a better outcome. Sharing this outcome with others will both uplift you, the person or people you are helping, and anyone you communicate this information to.

We always have choices to make, and since one of the choices could be to contribute to having more good news to share with others, I strongly encourage you to do so. Especially if it can help to offset in any way all the negative news that tends to override the good news we could be hearing about.

#Leadership #Communication #Leaders #Teams #Goodnews #Happy #Positivity #Management #Thinkingdifferently #Positiveinfluence #Business #Sports #Sportsteams #Corporateteams #Professionaldevelopment #Personaldevelopment #Strategy #Motivation #Beingpositive #Optimisticthinking #Optimist

How to make communicating with colleagues or teammates easier to do.

There are clearly some people who have a gift of being able to talk to just about anyone, or about anything. When you experience someone who has this ability, it’s analogous for me to watching ice dancing. I chose this analogy because watching ice dancing at the highest level of performance is incredibly elegant to watch, and the skaters make what they do look so easy. Although we can only imagine how much time and practice it took to get to this level. Especially since they are always one small slip away from potential disaster.

Conversations can be fluid or awkward, and similar to ice dancers, are ripe for potential slip ups. The difference between how the conversations are navigated and the comparison to ice dancers diverges in one area. This area is that the ice dancers are practicing one dance, and most of the variables they will be contending with are stable. However, with conversations, the variables, even with a practiced conversation is where the divergence occurs. This is due to the fact there are so many additional factors which could contribute to making the conversation more difficult than the ice dancing, and which are out of the conversationalist’s control.

An example of a factor which a conversationalist can’t prepare for is someone else’s mood. Or, knowing how the other person’s history on this topic might impact the outcome of it. Another challenge for conversations is the level at which someone is able to converse. If one person is a highly accomplished conversationalist and they are speaking to someone who isn’t, the flow and outcome of the conversation is going to be much different. Now consider two other  factors which will contribute to making the conversation more challenging.

The first factor has to do with hierarchy (e.g., work or sports team), and where each person in the conversation stands in this part of the equation. In this conversation scenario, the lower hierarchy person may not feel that they are able to say truly what they want to express. Perhaps out of respect, but also potentially out of fear of saying something which will lead to them losing opportunities for advancement, or worse, their role on a team or in the organization. Yes, these are extremes, but they are legitimate concerns people have when they are not equals in a conversation.

The second factor has to do with influence. Although logically you would think that in a hierarchical conversation that the higher-level person might have the advantage, this isn’t always true. In fact, it might be that the junior conversationalist has a higher ability to be more influential in their conversation style. If they do, this will provide them with an interesting advantage. An advantage that can offer them the skillset to have a stronger conversation flow and outcome which results in them obtaining either agreement. Or, the results of what they were seeking to have the conversation accomplish.  

Being able to maintain the right emotional level during a conversation is also key, but not easy to achieve. Especially if the topic is highly emotionally charged. Managing through an emotional conversation is never easy, yet it’s one that everyone both personally and professionally needs to be able to navigate through. The key in successfully getting through this type of conversation is to be honest and let the other person know you may be emotional during it. By preparing the person you will be speaking with that this isn’t going to be a neutral conversation, each of you will be able to let down your guard to have a more open discussion.

I’m not in HR, but I recently read a statistic from the HR Review. It noted that 48% of Millennials reported they are having a hard time communicating with colleagues. Reading this stat was what prompted me to consider both reasons why this was occurring, but more importantly, to offer some potential solutions to consider addressing this difficulty. Below are some of my ideas to help making communicating with colleagues, or your teammates less difficult.

  • Do you have some standard questions you can ask your colleague or teammate to open up the conversation? These of course would come after you genuinely asked them about how they are doing, and you carefully listened to what they said, and then responded accordingly. Most people will say they are doing “fine”, but occasionally they will tell you they are having a tough day.
  • If you are tripped up by not knowing what standard questions to ask, a few of them might be to inquire about how their day is, or how their weekend went. You could also ask them if they are working on anything interesting right now, or working on improving some aspect of what they do professionally. Another question which you can ask is “What advice they have for maintaining the energy level they do?“ This question will likely throw them off, but in a good way. Why? Because it is intended to be both a compliment, and provides them with an opportunity to share something more personal about themselves which each of you can benefit from.
  • Even if you don’t sense your colleague or teammate needs any help in their role, ask them if there is some aspect of what they do that they wish they could spend more time on, or have a higher level of support on? Listen carefully to their response, as there might be something they share with you that potentially you can help them with, or know someone who can.
  • One of my favorite questions to ask anyone is what travel plans they have? If they don’t have any, you can ask them where they might like to travel some day? This will open up an opportunity to proceed with asking numerous follow-up questions relating to why they chose to travel to where they did? What did they like about where they went? What did they learn from their travel to that location? Would they recommend going there? What would they do differently relating to that trip if they were to go back?
  • Another way of easing into conversations is to make sure your question is open-ended. In other words, don’t ask questions which can be responded to with one word.
  • Seeking to find out what you have in common with someone is always an ideal way to easily have a conversation with them. Since so many people have pets, find out if your colleague or teammate has a pet. Perhaps they don’t have one now, but maybe they did, or perhaps they are researching to find out which pet they would like to add to their life? If you have a pet, you can also talk about the various aspects relating to your pet.

Ideally and easily being able to communicate with someone has to do with being open minded enough to find topics of conversation you can talk about with ease. Or, that are neutral enough so that even if you have nothing in common, there are plenty of topics that you both will have an opinion on. Being a strong conversationalist, like my analogy to professional ice dancing takes practice for the majority of people to master. So be kind to yourself as you begin the journey of learning how to communicate with ease. You’ll get there.

TAGS: #Communication #Business #Strategy #Howtocommunicatebetter #Teams #Colleagues #Teammates #Motivation #Conversationalists #Tipsonhowtocommunicatewithothers #HR #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment #Management #Success #Millennials #Leadership

Sharing. Are you doing this enough?

I grew up with two siblings, and being the oldest, I learned early on that I was expected to share things with them. Sharing wasn’t something I ever thought much about, and it was something I just did. Fast forward to being an adult, and at some point, I realized that not everyone was on board with the same concept of sharing that I was used to.

My first awareness of the fact that not everyone was in the spirit of sharing, occurred when I really needed the person to share some information with me. I asked without considering that the answer could be no, and when I heard the word no, I was surprised. Actually, a bit shocked. I asked the person why they were not willing to share the information with me, and their answer wasn’t what I expected to hear. Their response was that they didn’t feel like sharing the information.

Of course, this person could have shared the information I was asking about, but they deliberately withheld it from me. After this happened, I thought about what would make someone do this? Was it out of spite, jealously or was it a control thing? It turns out it was a control thing, and I did eventually get the person to share the information with me, but this was a good lesson for me.

The best lesson I learned from this experience was that there wasn’t a good reason for the person to withhold the information from me, other than that they could do so. I also realized they may not have had the same experience I had growing up, and which when I shared with others, I felt really great doing so. I can’t tell you that this person felt great or any different when they finally did share the information with me, but I’ll never really know the answer.  However, a small part of me is hopeful that the experience of the person releasing the information to me made them feel better.

I can’t speak for others, but for me personally, I always feel a sense of pride and joy when I can share information with others. The expression that it is better to give than to receive resonates with me, and perhaps you have had this same experience?

As business executive, I came up with a system for determining which people within the organization would be willing to share and help me and others. It was a relatively simple system, and it was always uncanny how accurate it was. My system involved asking a person to share something with me, whether it was advice, experience or perhaps a physical item. If they were willing to share with me, I knew that they would be open to doing so again. If there was any reluctance or hesitation in doing so, I knew the person fell into one of two categories.

The first category was that if someone was willing to share, they were a confident person, and didn’t feel that they would be negatively impacted by the experience. The second category consisted of people who were reluctant or who didn’t share, and I categorized them as someone who thought that their “power” or influence would be diminished if they shared something. Typically, information in this case. The people who didn’t share came across as being less confident, and over time I noticed a pattern with both of the two categories.

The pattern was that the people who were comfortable with sharing progressed much faster and to higher levels in any measurable scenario. Meanwhile, the people who were not categorized as “sharers”, were typically stalling out in their careers, and were also less satisfied in the role they were in. Of course, there were exceptions to the pattern I was seeing, but there was a very strong correlation of this one factor of being a “sharing” person which positively influenced their career and the opportunities they encountered.

Worth noting is that when you begin to study leaders, you will often find that the common thread between them is their willingness to help others. This typically means they are willing to share their experience, network, time and information. They also often do this without hesitation. Have you encountered this type of leader or sports coach?

If you are not someone who currently falls into the category of being a “sharing” type of person, here are some suggestions for you to consider “test driving” to help you lean towards being in this category if you aspire to do so.

  • Without being asked, offer to share something you value with a person that wouldn’t expect you to do so. It could be a physical item or something intangible, but that would be perceived as being valuable to the person you are going to share it with.
  • If you are not accustomed to sharing, you will need to begin slowly, as it will feel very awkward and potentially intimidating for you to do so. Beginning slowly might involve donating your time to a charity to help them with something they are working on.
  • Set a goal for yourself of sharing one thing every day for two weeks, and keep track of what you are sharing. At the end of the two weeks, look back on what you have shared, and think about how it feels to have shared what you have with others.
  • The concept of sharing can take practice, and it does get much easier to share with others, and you will be happy to know that it doesn’t have to take a long time to reach a comfort level you can’t imagine being at currently.  
  • Many of us have too much “stuff”. Instead of sharing it with someone, take it to the next level and give it to someone who could benefit from having it more than you can.
  • Every one of us encountered a teacher, and I’m sure that you could name your favorite one. What was it about your favorite teach that you could mimic and teach someone else by borrowing the attribute about them that you admired?

As the year ends, I am thinking about how amazing our world would be if everyone was able to share with others, or at a different level than they are presently at. Please accept my challenge today of sharing something with another person today, and I’ll look forward to hearing about what you shared, and the outcome of the sharing experience.

TAGS: #Business #Leadership #Rolemodel #Sharing #Howtoshare #Whysharingisimportant #Careerdevelopment #Sportscoach #Coach #Aspirations #Inspiration #Motivation #Leader #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment #Teams #HRleader #Talentdevelopment #CEO #Manager #Management #Salesmanagement

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Age-nostic. Looking at your age differently, and why you should.

I have always subscribed to the saying “age is just a number”. In fact, I have thought about this more recently, as I reminded myself about two things. Don’t let my age define or limit me, and fully leverage the fact I have life experience to share with others.

During a conversation I was having this week with a friend, they were noting that they were regretful about waiting so long to do a project they are currently working on. For context, it happens to be an artistic type of project. I asked them why they waited to do the project until now, and it turns out they simply were not ready to take the project on before. Although from their perspective, their timing on completing the project isn’t ideal for them, the fact they are working on and will complete it is actually what matters.

This person was hyper focused on their age as being the reason they were regretful of not having completed the project before. I asked them if this project brought energy and joy into their life? I also asked them if they were proud of what they were working on? They confirmed that this project did bring them energy, joy and pride, and most importantly to them, it would provide them with a tangible legacy.

As I was thinking about both my age, and the person I referenced, I realized that I have a different approach to how I see the world. Not one that is based on accomplishing certain milestones at a particular age or decade, but one that is based on doing things when you are ready to do them, and have the confidence to accomplish them. This thinking has given me great personal comfort, as the type of professional work I am pursuing is taking me into unchartered territories and waters. Both of which I’m extremely excited about pursuing.

Will going forward into the unchartered waters and without any role models to look towards be easy? Of course not, but I am confident and know I have what it takes to be the pioneer and role model for others. This isn’t a description I might have embraced a decade ago, but as I have shed self-imposed restrictions which would have limited my thinking to pursue what I am going to be doing, it’s an incredibly freeing feeling!

One of the things I also realized from the conversation I was having this week with my friend, was that by placing self-imposed, or societal restrictions on ourselves in terms of when it is the “right time” to do or accomplish something made zero sense. That’s when the concept of wrapping my brain around being ageless, or what I referred to as being agenostic came about. My definition of agenostic is that you do not subscribe to defining yourself by your chronological age, and that you act and do things that provide your mind with motivation based on not having imposed limitations on what and when you can accomplish them. 

My entire life people have always told me I had a certain positive energy and vibe that was refreshing, and my kids always joke with me that they never think of me as being a particular age.  I attribute this mainly to the fact my outlook on life is so positive and filled with enthusiasm. This is also despite many of the obstacles I have encountered. In fact, I do my best to look at obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow from, which I believe helps to contribute to my agenostic approach to life.

Is being agenostic for everyone? It can be, but, it’s really a mindset you decide to embrace. I fully embrace it, because of the benefits I find it offers me on a daily basis, and which fuels my desire to continue to think this way.

Since by nature I am highly motivated to help others, and have a heightened sense of empathy for those who need additional support in their life, I also need to take the time to remain focused on aspects which positively contribute to my agenostic thinking. So, I do have to be mindful of actions which I could take that would not contribute to supporting how I think. This includes pruning people from my personal and professional circles who are not supportive. It also includes making sure I have a strong balance in my life, and am focused on including doing things that support good health and well-being.

I have been privileged to work and be engaged with some of the most inspirational people in our society. All of these people have one thing in common, and it is that they do not allow others to put restrictions on what they are capable of accomplishing. In fact, when people place restrictions on them, they are more inclined to go well beyond and accomplish far greater things in these scenarios.

Some would say these people are highly achievement or competitively oriented, and they may be, but it’s actually more than this. It comes down to the fact they also live their life without self-imposed limiting accomplishment or experience restrictions.

If you are a leader, sports coach, trusted advisor or someone who simply wants to subscribe to benefitting from adopting an agenostic approach, here are some suggestions to help you to do so.

  • Make a list of all of the reasons or excuses you can come up with about why you can’t do or accomplish something.
  • For every item on your list, come up with at least one solution that could eliminate your reasons or excuses for not being able to accomplish something.
  • If there are reasons or excuses on your list that you cannot come up with a solution for, who could you share them with that could help you to find a solution?
  • Are you ready to free yourself from self-imposed age restrictions? What will it take for you to confidently say yes to this?
  • Besides excuses and reasons, come up with another list of how you imagine you will feel, and what your life will be like when age related restrictions are eliminated.
  • Create a list of the things you will be accomplishing, looking forward to doing and that will be bringing both energy, joy and greater satisfaction into your life when you begin experiencing doing things you restricted yourself from doing before.   
  • Visualize how you will feel, and where you will be mentally and physically when you consider adopting the concept of being agenostic.

If and when you decide to adopt the concept of embracing being age-nostic, let me know, as I’ll be looking forward to speaking with you, and hearing about all of the exciting things you have to look forward to, and that you are going to be doing in your life!

#Business #Leadership #Motivation #Inspiration #Satisfaction #Life #Balance #Lifebalance #Visualization #Eliminateagerestrictions #Noexcuses #Nolimits #Nolimitations #Success #Happiness #Notdefinedbyage #Notdefinedbyyourage #GenX #GenY #GenZ #Millennials #Boomers #SportsCoach #Leader #TrustedAdvisor

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Why you should give someone a chance or an opportunity.

 The first time I had a chance to professionally give someone an opportunity was when I was in my twenties, and it involved hiring my first employee. I can vividly recall both the excitement and trepidation I felt about making the decision to hire this person. It wasn’t because I was concerned about them being able to do the job, it was because of the fact I did not have experience with knowing how to manage another person. It turns out thirty years later I did find out that I did know how to manage someone, and they sent me a hand-written letter expressing their gratitude to me for giving them a chance, and hiring them. 

At that point in time, I had been managed by other people, and fortunately I had some amazing bosses, and one not so amazing one. In some respects, I probably learned more from the not-so-great manager, and this was because I was cataloging in my mind things they did that I would never want to do as a manager. One of them was to be a micromanager, and unfortunately for me, they had this skill down perfectly. However, the best news about my least favorite manager was that they gave me a chance to enter a new career which I proceeded to be in for another twenty plus years. 

Upon looking back on the opportunity that manager gave me, I realized that they must have seen something in me which warranted bringing me onto their team. As I think more about why they did this, I would say it was because we were complete opposites in terms of our methods of how we interacted professionally. He was extremely introverted, and you guessed it, I was the opposite of this. My ability to interact and get along with others helped him to bridge the gap he had with interacting with all of the employees we had to work with. In some respects, I now realize that he did become better at working with people, and perhaps some of this had to do with me demonstrating how to do so. 

With few exceptions, everyone has at least one time in their life when they either can recall, or will have a situation personally or professionally to give another person a chance. Either to do something trivial, or perhaps extraordinary. 

Consider a recent scenario when you may have actually passed and did not give another person an opportunity. If you broke down the reasons why you didn’t give them a chance, was it because you were afraid they might make you look bad? Was it because you were concerned you would have to spend a great deal of time mentoring them? Or, was it because you didn’t think they would “fit in” with the team? 

If you didn’t hire someone because you didn’t think they would fit in, chances are high that this was based on a bias you may have had, but would never admit to. Or perhaps it was because you had a gut instinct that something wasn’t quite right on a number of different levels, but you may not have been able to articulate exactly what they were. It was purely a feeling you had. 

In the case of not giving someone a chance was oriented around a negative bias, I want you to seriously think about something. Did you feel intimidated by this individual? Were you concerned they might outperform you at some point? Perhaps their intelligence level was greater than yours, or possibly their EQ was obviously higher than yours? The point is, that you were afraid on some level, but may not have considered this as a factor. 

The interesting aspect of being afraid is that most of the time, our fear is based on something irrational. Although there are occasions when it is real. However, most of the time, the fear we have is in our minds, and if we took the time to potentially override this, imagine the outcome of many of our decisions. One time I heard a great acronym for fear, and I have always thought about this myself when I felt fearful. The acronym for F.E.A.R. is “false expectations appearing real”. This simple statement has course corrected many of my own decisions throughout the journey of my life, and I hope it might provide you with a new way of confronting your own fears. 

To help you increase your odds of giving another person a chance or opportunity, here are some suggestions to consider:

·      Think about how much giving the person a chance might change the trajectory of their personal or professional life. It might not be that dramatic of an impact, but then again, it might. 

·      What is the worst-case scenario of this person being given a chance, and having them fail? 

·      Look at what you can do to set the person up for success. If you are a leader, this is always something you should be doing. No exceptions. 

·      Be honest with the person about any reservations you have about giving them an opportunity, and let them mitigate any concerns you have. 

·      Nothing is permanent, and taking a chance on someone doesn’t have to be either, so err on giving one. 

·      Consider how this person might compliment, augment or even out strengths you or others on your team have. 

·      Mentoring someone can be a great on ramp, or interim option prior to fully committing to giving someone a chance if you are hesitant in doing so.

·      Do your best to override your fear of helping this person out. It might turn out to be the best decision you ever made, and hiring my first employee turned out that way. 

With few exceptions, everyone deserves to be given an opportunity. Whether it is to succeed, be included or be given more responsibility. The list is endless in terms of the benefits both that person and you will gain when you are in a position to give someone a chance. Keeping in mind, that someone likely gave you at one point or more in your life. 

TAGS: #Leadership #Personaldevelopment #Business #Teams #Mentor #Success #Opportunity #Givingsomeoneachance #Bias #Leader #Sales

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